PBBM anoints Rex Gatchalian as new DSWD chief

Instructs department to continue cash aid for poor

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PRESIDENT Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has anointed Valenzuela first district representative Rexlon ‘Rex’ Gatchalian, to head the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) as the department celebrated its 72nd anniversary last January 31, 2023.

The President was shown administering the oath of office to Gatchalian in the Palace, courtesy of the video posted by the Presidential Communications Office (PCO) on the same day.

The announcement of Gatchalian’s anointment came on the same day the DSWD was celebrating its 72nd founding anniversary.

The President led the celebration on Tuesday morning, but there was no indication that he will be appointing a DSWD secretary later in the day.

Gatchalian would be replacing journalists Erwin Tulfo and Edu Punay at the top of the department.

Tulfo was forced out of office last December 27, 2022 and was replaced by Punay, his undersecretary, as ‘OIC’ (officer-in-charge) after Tulfo failed to get the nod of the Commission on Appointments (CA).

“I just took my oath as head of DSWD. Mr. President, thank you for giving me the opportunity to be able to serve the country in a much larger capacity,” Gatchalian said on Twitter.

Of Chinese ethnicity, the Gatchalians continue to make inroads into the country’s politics. His brother, Sherwin or ‘Winn,’ is already a senator while another brother, Weslin ‘Wes’ Gatchalian is the mayor of Valenzuela City after Rexlon decided to run– and won– as congressman for the first district during the 2022 elections.

The Gatchalian siblings, with the support of their patriarch, businessman Wiliam Gatchalian, have turned Valenzuela into their own political stronghold where they have ruled for several decades now.

Before being elected to the House of Representatives, Gatchalian also served as mayor of the city from 2013 to 2022, whereupon he was replaced by his brother, Wes.

Meanwhile, in his message, the President instructed the DSWD to continue giving cash aid to poor Filipino families and individuals who are affected by the rising prices of basic commodities.

“I call upon the DSWD to continue to implement the unconditional cash transfer program to provide cash grants to poor households and individuals who do not benefit from the lower income tax rates but who are adversely affected by rising prices,” the President said.

In his speech, PBBM also appealed to enhance the social pension program for indigent senior citizens to augment their daily subsistence and medical needs.

He likewise urged the DSWD workers to “remain steadfast” in its commitment to serve indigent Filipinos, underscoring that some poor families consider the agency as their “lifeline.”

The President told the DSWD and other government agencies to ensure that their respective services “reach those in need wherever they may be,” stressing that people should not need to travel to urban areas to access government services.

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